Dale Ralph Davis made my ‘Top 5 commentaries on 2 Samuel‘. He did so easily. It’s a superb commentary. There is a quote of Alec Motyer on the front cover of my edition which captures my sentiments: ‘I have lost count of the number of titbits transferred to my notebooks for future use!’ Davis has given his commentary the title ‘Out of Every Adversity’ which is taken from 2 Samuel 4:9 (RSV).
Davis runs through the text carefully and has wonderful anecdotes and quotes which help draw out some of the practical applications of the Samuel narrative. So, for example, in 2 Samuel 2:8-11 he comments upon the decision by Abner to make Ish-bosheth to be king of Israel. Davis writes:
“If we are among Yahweh’s remnant, we must not allow the defiance of the latest Abners to deter or depress us. It can certainly do so. Witness the dejection of John Knox, the Scottish reformer, when in 1566 he poured out his despair: ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and put an end at thy good pleasure to this my miserable life, for justice and truth are not to be found among the children of men.’ Only the house of Judah was following David’ (v. 10b) – that is our place and our calling. Even in low times; even in a day of small things (cf. Zechariah 4:10 in context.)”
He goes further:
“But there is no reason in the world to be discouraged even if you only see the mustard seed form of the kingdom. For we have it on good authority that Hebron and its hamlets will become a great mountain and fill the whole earth (Daniel 2:35).”
It really is a tremendous expositional commentary which covers all 24 chapters of 2nd Samuel. But when I came to 2 Samuel 12, I found one surprising omission. Davis has nothing to say about 2 Samuel 12:24-25:
“Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the LORD loved him and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.”
Now this is a small commentary and Davis clearly does not have room to comment upon every single word or verse. He does a tremendous job of covering the book and he does note these verses in his outline of the chapter. Nonetheless, I have been surprised by this omission. I keep flicking back over the pages he has written on 2 Samuel 11-12 thinking ‘maybe I’ve just missed it’. But, no. I can’t see any comment on these verses.
It has surprised me because these verses seem pretty important. Here is the conception and birth of the son to David who will be the next king of Israel. David brings comfort to the grieving Bathsheba whose name is mentioned for only the second time (see 11:3). In 2 Samuel 12:15 she is ‘Uriah’s wife’ but here in 12:24 she is David’s wife. The narrative includes the note that the LORD loved him, and there is the penultimate use of the theme verb, sent (salah), in 12:25 as well as reference again to Nathan the prophet. The baby named Jedidiah. The son of David whose birth is slotted here in between the death of the son born in adultery (12:15) and the crowning of David through the defeat of the Ammonites (12:30).
2 Samuel 12:15-3 is filled with surprises. Why did David fast and weep? Why did he stop fasting? And then Solomon – who’d have thought this would be the context for the birth of the future king of Israel? And perhaps that’s why I’m surprised as I read Dale Davis. I find myself wondering why Dale Davis has omitted commentary on this paragraph. No doubt it is space and editing. But, if he put out another edition, then in my humble opinion, it would be good to include something about the birth of Solomon – the birth of wisdom.